When Natural Consequences Don’t Work: The VLOG

This morning I watched a great free webinar about how to use natural consequences. I saw the testimonials; amazing stories like the woman whose three year old is just buckling themselves in and is delighted to do it now!

When Natural Consequences Don’t Work

I thought, “Maybe I could be a mom like that.” It was a good webinar: she did a great job explaining how to effectively use natural consequences. That’s in my pediatrics textbook. That’s some really good advice. Except, I have a really hard time staying calm enough to do it the way she described it.

I struggled for years feeling really inadequate as a mom feeling like I’m not doing enough for my kids because of methods like that. Methods which are so right but don’t always work. Sometimes I can’t stay calm enough, I can’t be grown up enough, or perfect enough. And my kids don’t respond the way they’re supposed to, They’re really smart and they’re really good at like outwitting me, and finding ways to make my brilliant parenting techniques not work.

So I felt myself sigh and I thought, I’m going to take this advice and put it in my toolkit. That’s what we do with SIGH, SEE, and START. Instead of making a technique our primary way of interacting with our kids, we say “Okay, I’m going to use this parenting method.” Then we put that parenting method in our toolkit and we reach into our toolkit, only after we’ve done SIGH, SEE, and START first.

Later that morning, we had a family meeting in the car on our way to and fro. I was kind of proud of myself. I was able to apply some of those tools with natural consequences. Today went much better than yesterday with the kids, but it only worked because first, when I tried to start using it, I SIGHED. I really let go of the need to be perfect, I connected with myself. I did my SEE step and noticed the kids were ready to listen, because lately they’ve been too riled up to do that. And then I STARTED using the language I thought would work for us and for them.

I did not say it the way the educator did. I said it the way my kids would hear it. And when I got a negative reaction, I SIGHED again and I took a SEE. I could see that one of them was tense, he was not ready to listen. And I STARTED with silence.

This SIGH, SEE, and START business, it’s not about one way of doing things. It’s not about getting it right. It doesn’t build perfect kids. You don’t get those testimonials like “Oh my gosh, my children are now ideal.” No, it’s about building in this messy life together. It doesn’t matter who you are. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a traditional family. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent, or you’re a grandparent raising your grandkids, or aunt, a caregiver, an uncle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a family trying to figure out how to co parent in different homes. Actually, I think you might need it more if you’re doing that, because when we SIGH, SEE, and START, we get a chance to get in it together. And I think it helps us grow as a family.

Disclaimer: This article represents general education and does not constitute medical advice. My ideas are mine alone. 

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Author: Alison Escalante MD

Alison Escalante MD is a Pediatrician, TEDx Speaker, Writer and Mother on a mission to help parents caught in the culture of criticism.

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